Things That Matter

Here’s How To Support California Farmworkers On Thanksgiving As They Continue To Work Through Bad Air Conditions

The wildfires in California have ravaged the state. An estimated 699 people remain missing, and so far 79 people have died. The fires are not yet contained. In Southern California, as of today, the Woolsey Fire that affected parts of Los Angeles and Ventura counties is 96 percent contained. In Northern California, the Camp Fire, which is where more than 60 people died, is as of now, 70 percent contained.

The California wildfires have led to the worst air quality in the world affecting millions of people.

Facebook/Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy (CAUSE)

The fires started between November 8 and 12. Farmworkers in the state have had no other choice but to continue working. Despite the unhealthy air conditions photos have circulated on social media of farmworkers harvesting produce as the smoky air lingers above them.

The United Farmworkers (UFW) has said that some farmworkers, that are protected by their union, have been told not to work because operations have shut down due to unhealthy air quality.

Facebook/Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy (CAUSE)

“Some companies where farmworkers are protected by United Farm Workers contracts and that are affected by both the Camp and Woolsey fires have shut down operations when air quality got especially hazardous,” UFW said on Facebook.

However, because not all are protected under UFW, people have been helping out by distributing face masks to workers.

Facebook/Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy (CAUSE)

“We set a time to meet once we started seeing the sky. The air was getting worse and worse,” Aracely Preciado, from the organization Central Coast Alliance for a Sustainable Economy (CAUSE), told Pacific Standard magazine. “We sent out a call on social media, and students and other community members began showing up.”

A 22-year-old teacher also took it upon herself to pass out masks in Lodi, California.

Facebook/@FrankSomervilleKTVU/

“I don’t have the emotional capacity to go into detail about this just yet because I just got home and feel really tired, but today I spent my day in Lodi just 1 1/2 hrs away from San Jose to hand out masks to farmworkers in rural communities,” Paulina Cortes said, according to KTVU anchor Frank Somerville. “Find a way to give to a community who needs help. Thank you to everyone who is supporting me through donations. I drove through San Jose and all the way to Salinas to find the amount of masks I needed. This is important. The story here isn’t that I handed out masks, it’s that there are hundreds of people who are working in HAZARDOUS environments with NO protection. And no one even knows about it.”

Now that Thanksgiving is here, farmworkers need help and support more than ever.

As we figure out grocery lists and what to serve on Thanksgiving, UFW recommends purchasing from a selective group of goods in order to best support farmworkers.

It’s important to note that, according to the Washington Post, there’s 2 million to 3 million farmworkers in the country, but the UFW only represents 10,000 people.

Certain produce companies give UFW union members good worker benefits.

Celebrate the Holidays with UFW union products! The holiday season is about to start and that often means meals with…

Posted by UFW on Friday, November 16, 2018

Not all farmworkers have protections. The more people purchase from a select group of companies, the more inclined they will be to give back to their employees. They’ve made it really easy to know which companies to support. Click here for more information.

A group of school children have also reached out to farmworkers just to say “thank you for your hard work.”

facebook.com/unitedfarmworkers

UFW reports that elementary kids from Oregon and Washington made Thanksgiving cards to let their local farm workers “know how much they appreciate the hard work they put into producing the food that we will be enjoying this Thanksgiving!”

So if you can’t pass out masks or send out Thanksgiving thank you cards, here’s other options for you.

UFW / Facebook

To help the UFW and their union members, click here.

For more information on the Campaign for Migrant Worker Justice and support the work they do, click here.

To educate yourself about the National Center for Farmworker Health, click here.

This Thanksgiving as we partake on amazing foods, let’s take time to reflect on where the food is coming from because who knows how much longer farmworkers will be around.


READ: Latino Businessman Allegedly Had Mexican Farmworkers Living in Buses And Paid Them Less Than What He Promised

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Texas Mother Loses Three Children And Their Grandmother To A Fire They Made While Attempting To Stay Warm Amidst Power Outages

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Texas Mother Loses Three Children And Their Grandmother To A Fire They Made While Attempting To Stay Warm Amidst Power Outages

The consequences of the widespread power outages in Texas have been beyond devastating to the state who has endured unrelenting winter weather made worse by an inferior infrastructure. Power and water outages have raged across the state last week as a result of an unusual deep freeze that has pushed many into survival mode.

Sadly, while Texas is beginning to receive relief, the Nguyen family has been faced with the unimaginable.

Jackie Pham Nguyen is the only survivor of a house fire that killed her three children and grandmother.

Nguyen was with her three children in their home in the Houston suburb of Sugar Land, Texas when the power went out at her mother Loan Le’s house. That Monday, Nguyen welcomed her mother into her home, located just five miles away, and where she and her children Olivia, 11, Edison, 8, and Colette, 5, still had power.

“We thought we were really lucky because we still had power until the early evening,” Nguyen said in an interview with CNN. After losing power just a few hours later, Nguyen says she and her family members settled down, lit their fireplace, and played board and card games. When 9:30 p.m. rolled around, everyone headed to sleep.

“Tucked my kids into bed and really the next thing I know I’m in the hospital,” Nguyen told CNN. “A few hours later the fireman and police officer came and said that no one else made it.”

Nguyen says she has little recollection of what happened but remembers being unable to get upstairs to her children’s bedrooms.

Nguyen’s room, which was located on her first floor where her bedroom is and yelled for her kids. “I was just standing there screaming and screaming and screaming their names hoping they would come out of their rooms and basically jump over so that we could get out,” she explained. “I just remember feeling like it was so dark and I can still kind of hear everything crackling around me.”

Coco, Edison and Olivia Nguyen all died in the fire.

Nguyen said she doesn’t remember much more of what happened but Doug Adolph, a spokesperson for the city of Sugar Land, told CNN that she “had to be physically restrained from running back into the house.”

According to Adolph, Nguyen’s neighborhood was without power for at least eight hours. The fire department arrived around 2 a.m. Tuesday and it took nearly an hour to get the fire fully under control.

“The family had posted on social media that they were attempting to stay warm by using a fireplace inside the home,” Adolph said, adding that the cause of the fire has not yet been determined and may never be. “We can’t say for sure that was the cause of the fire. We just don’t know yet,” he explained. “It’s possible that the investigation may never identify an exact cause.”

Nguyen suffered burns on her hands, but explained in an interview that the loss of her children and her mother is devastating

“My heart is broken,” she explained to CNN. “I’m never gonna be the same… I’m in this crisis tactical mode now and I’m just really focused on all these final arrangements because this is the last sort of thing I’m going to do for my kids.”

Speaking about her children, Nguyen describes them as having big personalities and hearts.

“My kids were such phenomenal, amazing, little badass humans,” she said of her children. “Colette is just a little firecracker and she has so much charisma… she also, as a 5-year-old, had that level of confidence. She was never afraid, totally unapologetic, not intimidated.”

“Obviously I mourn losing them,” Nguyen told CNN. “But I feel like it’s honestly a tragic loss for the world that these kids don’t get to like live up to their potential and contribute to society in the way that they could have.”

A GoFundMe page for the family has already brought in $342,387 in donations. Nguyen says she hopes to use the money to build an organization or foundation.

“I want to do something lasting for them,” Nguyen said. “I really want to be thoughtful about it because I want it to be lasting and meaningful. … I owe it to everybody’s support and their intentions to not be hasty about how those resources are used.”

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Coachella Farmworkers Are First In The Nation To Receive ‘Hero Pay’

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Coachella Farmworkers Are First In The Nation To Receive ‘Hero Pay’

Farmworkers in Coachella are the first in the nation to receive “hero pay.” There are hundreds of thousands of farmworkers in California and most are undocumented. Their work throughout the pandemic has kept food on the table for people across the country.

The city of Coachella extended “hero pay” to farmworkers

It is the first city in the nation to extend “hero pay” to farmworkers. According to the LA Times, 8,000 farmworkers live in the Coachella Valley and the ordinance goes into effect immediately. The ordinance gives employees an additional $4 an hour in pay for at least four months.

“We know that COVID has been more prominent in these agricultural communities, and if you look at the mortality rates, a lot of farmworkers have died,” Mayor Steven Hernandez told the LA Times. “You can see the devastation.”

Coachella is also going above and beyond to vaccinate the farmworkers as well.

A UC San Francisco study showed that farmworkers and restaurant workers are at a much higher risk of Covid because of the work they do. As such, the city of Coachella also decided to lead the nation is making sure that the farmworker community is signed up for vaccinations as they become available.

Governor Gavin Newsom highlighted the need to vaccinate farmworkers because of their vulnerability to the virus. Compounding on the issue is that Latinos tend to live in multi-generational houses and work other essential jobs. The risk of spreading the virus to vulnerable people is high within the community and part of the reason the city is rushing to vaccinate farmworkers.

“The heroes we talk about in this pandemic are not just our nurses and doctors, not just our frontline employees … (but also) our grocery store workers, our restaurant workers and our farmworkers,” Gov. Newsom said at a press conference.

People are celebrating Coachella for doing what they can to protect farmworkers.

Farmworkers have been crucial in making sure that grocery stores have been stocked with produce throughout the pandemic. The work done by farmworkers has made life possible for people during one of the hardest and darkest moments in the world. As the nation sheltered in place during the outbreak of Covid, farmworkers joined the ranks of essential workers that kept the economy and life moving.

Coachella’s ordinance comes at a moment when Kroger, a major corporation, shut down locations instead of giving employees “hero pay.”

Cities and states are passing ordinances to increase the pay for certain essential and frontline workers for their bravery. Kroger, which earned more than $121 billion dollars in 2020, chose to close locations rather than pay employees hazard pay for working through a pandemic.

“When large corporations make record profits and double their earnings – they need to share that success with those providing the labor. Period,” Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia tweeted about Kroger, which owns Food 4 Less and Ralph’s among other brands.

READ: Farmworkers Are Testing Positive For Covid-19 At Record Numbers, So What Are Officials Doing To Help?

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